What is forex? 

Foreign exchange trading, also known as FX and forex, is the simultaneous buying of one currency and selling of another. 

What is foreign exchange trading?

Forex is one of the most widely traded markets in the world, with a total daily average turnover reported to exceed $5 trillion a day. It's one of the largest and most liquid financial markets in the world, with different currencies constantly being exchanged as individuals, companies and organisations conduct global business. The forex market is not based in a central location or exchange, so it's open 24 hours a day from Monday morning through to Saturday morning. 

Foreign exchange trading enables you to take advantage of rate fluctuations across a wide range of currencies. Forex is always traded in pairs – for example EUR/USD. You speculate on whether the price of one country's currency will rise or fall against the currency of another country, and take a position accordingly. 

CMC Markets was one of the first companies to provide online forex trading. You can trade CFDs in forex. We offer all of the major crosses (or cross pairs), as well as a large selection of minor, exotic and emerging market currency pairs. 

Base and counter currency

Using the EUR/USD currency pair as our example, the first currency, EUR, is called the 'base currency' and the second currency, USD, is known as the 'counter currency'. 

How does forex trading work?

When trading forex, you always speculate on whether the price of the base currency will rise or fall against the counter currency. So in EUR/USD if you think EUR will rise against USD, you go long (buy) the currency pair. Alternatively, if you think EUR will fall against USD (or that USD will rise against EUR), you go short (sell) the currency pair.

If you were right (that is if you went long EUR/USD and EUR went up in value against USD), you would make a profit. If the trade went against you, however, you would make a loss. 

You can trade forex using leverage, which allows you to increase your potential profit, but it also increases your potential loss.

What is margin or leverage?

Since forex is traded on margin, you only have to deposit a percentage of the full amount you wish to trade. Our margins start from 2%, which could be referred to as 50:1 leverage, as the value of the full position would be 50 times the value of the deposit required to open the trade. When trading on margin it's important to remember that your profits or losses are based on the full value of the position, not just the percentage you deposited, so you can lose more than your initial deposit. 

FX trading examples 

View our FX trading examples to see how buying or selling forex pairs as CFDs works, and find out more about trading forex with us.

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CFD trading can result in losses that exceed your deposits. Ensure you understand the risks.